In 1965, long before the term “SUV” was even coined, Ford launched its Bronco, an off-roader that could play in the dirt as well as on asphalt. Owners gladly traded any stitch of luxury for a boxy brute that offered utility and the tenacity of a pack mule. By 1996, the Bronco had gotten big and flabby and was trotted off to the glue factory. Today, the first-gen Broncos, model years 1966 to 1977, have a cult following, and Ford has shrewdly leveraged the nostalgia, recently relaunching a new model with much fanfare.
For Seth Burgett, a confirmed Ford guy since age nine, those early Broncos are magical machines. A serial entrepreneur and engineer, he had sold a sports-headphones company and needed a new challenge. So, as his Bronco-collecting bug got out of hand, it only made sense for the inventor (with more than 40 patents and patents pending to his credit) to start a company building the best old-time Bronco he could dream of.
Just off Route 66 in Hamel, Ill., Gateway Bronco’s 60,000-square-foot factory has plenty of space to fabricate these beasts on a well-oiled production line, with all the work done in-house. Three levels of build are available—Fuelie, Coyote and Luxe GT Editions—each with a host of custom options, including an electric version with about 200 miles of range. Think an automatic soft top (Gateway created the first for a Bronco) and other high- tech updates such as modern infotainment systems with CarPlay hidden in the console and a rearview that turns into a backup camera with the touch of a button. No bucking involved.